A new memorial in downtown Kitchener recognizes the lives lost due to homelessness

By Tim Herd

On November 14, the memorial known as 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place' was unveiled at Vogelsang Green Park in downtown Kitchener, at the corner of Duke Street and Queen Street. 

It is a sculpture of a bronze backpack on a red slab of stone and is dedicated to the lives lost due to homelessness. 

“We decided to have a backpack as a symbol of our memorial because for many, including myself, when you're homeless, you carry your entire life on your back,” said Suzi Gursoy, Homeless Advocate. 

Gursoy was homeless for over 20 years and mentioned homelessness does not have to be a life sentence. “I am living proof that people can and do recover from homelessness and addiction.” 

She added planning and developing the memorial has been quite the process and has been a few years in the making. 

“In 2016, I attended the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in London, Ontario, where I was asked to speak at (London's) homeless memorial. I walked away from that experience wondering why we do not have a memorial in (Kitchener)”. 

The project received funding from the City of Kitchener, while the rest was covered by the KW Homelessness Committee, representing several local organizations like the Waterloo Region Arts Fund, Ray of Hope, House of Friendship, OneRoof, Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, and others.

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